Today has been a dark and tragic day in Arizona. At least six people are dead, a Congresswoman is in critical condition after being shot through the head, and everybody has been terrified by a rare act of violence. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Representative Giffords and her family.
But meanwhile, the blogosphere is full of theories and speculation. Some people jumped immediately to it being a Tea Party assassin, others said it was a random maniac, or an illegal immigrant, or even a Left Wing false flag operation. In the intervening hours, more details have emerged about the shooter, and given this recent post about lone wolf terrorism, I'd give it my shot.
The shooter has been identified as Jared Loughner, a 22 year old white male from Tuscon, AZ. We know only a little about his background; he's in community college, and he was refused military service. Like other lone wolf terrorists, he has left a manifesto, in the form of a Youtube Channel.
Loughner's videos are brief text slideshows accompanied by ambient guitar music (I am reminded of God is an Astronaut.) The picture that emerges is one of a disturbed young man, a waking dreamer in a society of illiterates. Loughner is obsessed with mind control, and the power of grammar, currency, and religion over the masses. Here's what he has to say about terrorism and the Constitution.
If I define terrorist then a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.
I define terrorist.
Thus, a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.
If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me terrorist is Ad hominem.
You call me a terrorist
Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.
You don't have to accept the federalist laws.
Nonetheless, read the United States of America's Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.
You're literate, listener?
In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can't trust the current government because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.
The only other video on the page is a seven minute video where a man in a black robe ritualistically burns the American flag to the metal anthem “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.” His list of favorite books are “Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno. “
I'm not a psychiatrist, but Loughner 's reasoning is stereotypically schizophrenic and paranoid. He denies external reality, rails against the structure of society, and is obsessed with some Tea Party favorites, like the gold standard and the 10th Amendment. His brief stint in the military matches the lone wolf profile. He is quite clearly disturbed and dangerous, but is he a terrorist, or merely a confused young man?
The distinguishing point between the terrorist and the typical American school or workplace shooter is the political nature of the terrorists action. Shooters (and we've seen a lot) target the entity that they believe has wrong them the most, a familiar location like a school or workplace. These are desperate people who feel the need to make one final statement.
Loughner railed against Pima Community College, describing it as a scam, a torture facility full of mind control victim. He alludes to some incident where he was prevented from speaking. Why then did he target Representative Giffords, and not his school?
We can't fully know, this act stemmed from a place of deep nihilism. Loughner was in many ways a bomb waiting to explode, but I doubt the inflammatory climate he was in helped. Giffords was most likely a target of opportunity, the most important one he could reach.
Giffords was on Sarah Palin's “TakeBackThe20.com”, a website which marked her district with a target symbol, and demanded that voters remove them (and has since been scrubbed from the internet). Sarah Palin said about healthcare, “"The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons -- your Big Guns -- to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win." We of course remember Sharron Angle's “Second Amendment Remedies.”
At this point, a clear line cannot be draw between specific statement by Palin, Beck, et al and the shooting, but one thing is obvious. Jared Loughner choose to make his ultimate statement on a political target, not a personal one. The heated rhetoric and weapons related metaphors increase the risk that some number of disturbed people in America will decide that their life is ruled by political oppression, not personal failure. The right wing bears responsibility for this incident, and I hope it prompts their pundits to step back from the edge of madness they currently walk.
EDIT: When I wrote this, much of the information about Loughner was speculative. I've corrected his name, and military status. In an early draft, I also lay more of the blame on the right wing. I was wrong, acted in haste, and went against my own argument. I've left the original conclusion up as reminded to myself. Apologies to those offended.